Based on the book ELEGY FOR IRIS, by John Bayley, this biopic tells the inspiring and heartbreaking story of the writer’s 40-year romance with English novelist Dame Iris Murdoch. The film cuts back and forth between the young Iris and John (played by Kate Winslet and Hugh Bonneville), at the height of their romantic adventures as students at Oxford in the 1950s, and the elderly couple (played by Judi Dench and Jim Broadbent), struggling with Iris’ decline, as her brilliant mind is ravaged by the effects of Alzheimer’s.
Judi Dench gives an outstanding performance–her transformation from a prolific genius of the written and spoken word (Murdoch wrote 26 novels), to the infantile state of losing her language facilities altogether, is truly wrenching. Jim Broadbent is equally touching as her partner for life, who has adored the passionate Iris since they met, but was never fully able to possess her until the tragic end, when he declares in grief, I’ve got you now, and I don’t bloody want you! Directed by Richard Eyre, artistic director of Britain’s Royal National Theater, the film is uniquely sensitive and finely acted.